Children and the Argument from 'Marginal' Cases

Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 14 (3):291-305 (2011)
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I characterize the main approaches to the moral consideration of children developed in the light of the argument from 'marginal' cases, and develop a more adequate strategy that provides guidance about the moral responsibilities adults have towards children. The first approach discounts the significance of children's potential and makes obligations to all children indirect, dependent upon interests others may have in children being treated well. The next approaches agree that the potential of children is morally considerable, but disagree as to whether and why children with intellectual disabilities are morally considerable. These approaches explore the moral significance of intellectual capacities, species membership, the capacity for welfare, and the interests of others. I argue that relationships characterized by reciprocity of care are morally valuable, that both the potential to be in such relationships and the actuality of being in them are morally valuable, and that many children with significant intellectual disabilities have this potential



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Author's Profile

Amy Mullin
University of Toronto, Mississauga

References found in this work

Anarchy, State, and Utopia.Robert Nozick - 1974 - New York: Basic Books.
A Theory of Justice: Revised Edition.John Rawls - 1999 - Harvard University Press.
Animal Liberation.Peter Singer (ed.) - 1977 - Avon Books.
The Case for Animal Rights.Tom Regan - 2004 - Univ of California Press.

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